The Charleston Parks Conservancy is inviting the public to go beyond the vase and re-imagine the role of flowers and floral art in public spaces, parks and homes. As part of its Art in the Parks program, the Conservancy is hosting a springtime exhibit of flower art plus workshops and demonstrations.
Swoon to the Rose: A Flower Art Collaboration will feature the work of five floral artists, including international artist Hitomi Gilliam. The exhibit is March 26 to April 16 at the Charleston Parks Conservancy, 720 Magnolia Road, Suite 25 in West Ashley. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
Swoon to the Rose explores unique ways the rose and other flowers are finding their way into everyday lives. Interactive displays encourage visitors to create their own flower art, ask questions and engage with the flower creations on display.
Jim Martin, director of horticulture for the Conservancy, had the idea for this event three years ago. One of his goals is to make flower art more accessible by demonstrating how simple it can be to incorporate flowers into everyday living.
Martin, who has been studying floral design for 15 years, is hoping this exhibit will encourage people to go beyond the vase and open them up to new ways of using flowers.
“The No. 1 goal of Swoon to the Rose is for people to see things they haven’t seen before or see things in a different way,” Martin said. “We want people to be inspired to think about using flowers in a flowered art form at home.”
The exhibit includes four themes that will appeal to all ages.
Charleston and Its Rose: The rose is one of the most important flowers dating back to the beginning of civilization. Charleston has a long history with the rose and the Conservancy has been planting roses in many of the city’s parks, including Colonial Lake where the Peggy Martin Rose is a springtime showstopper. And in 2019, the Conservancy created the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park where a variety of heirloom roses, including the Blush Noisette and Champney’s Pink Cluster, fill the park with fragrant, colorful blooms.
Celebrating the Wall: Learn how to add flowers to wall hangings and decorations for a special occasion or everyday enjoyment.
Flower Inspiration Everyday: Flowers are more than decor for special events. Easily accessible at grocery stores and farmers markets, flowers can be a part of everyday living.
Slow Flower Power: Do you know where your flowers come from? Learn about local growers and how you can support local flower farmers. Lowcountry Flower Growers will donate flowers for the exhibits.
Martin’s work will be on display, along with pieces from four other accomplished floral artists:
Hitomi Gilliam, a Japanese Canadian flower artist and floral educator, who has worked all over the world. She currently works with her son, Colin Gilliam, in an event and education business DESIGN358. Gilliam is the founder of the annual Survival of the Creative Minds Conference in Taos, New Mexico, and is co-founder of the European Master Certification Program.
Scott Hasty, retail florist in the small southeast Texas town of Orange. His shop, J Scotts Aflorist, offers cutting edge floristry and upscale trendy designs to its faithful customers.
Rebecca Raymond, a floral designer, instructor and freelancer from the Pacific Northwest specializing in weddings and corporate work. She also mentors and coaches designers who are interested in a career in the floral profession.
Jorge Uribe, owner and creative floral artist of Urban Floral LLC in Wolcott, Connecticut. He has a background in graphic design and music and alternates his floral art with his other passion, photography.
Workshops and demonstrations will be offered throughout the exhibit, giving the public hands-on opportunities to learn how they can incorporate local flowers into everyday living and their own homes. The three-week exhibit wraps up with the Magnolia Concert Series on April 15 at Magnolia Park and Community Garden located next to the Conservancy office.
The Conservancy launched its Art in the Parks program in 2017, an effort to encourage temporary public art displays in Charleston city parks through collaborations with artists and arts organizations. Temporary exhibits have been installed in Hampton Park and near the West Ashley Greenway.
For more than 10 years, the Conservancy -- through public-private partnerships -- has had a hand in renovating and beautifying more than 22 parks in the City of Charleston. Notable projects include the complete renovation of Colonial Lake, the renovation of the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park as well as Allan Park, Wragg Square, McMahon Playground at Hampton Park, Magnolia Park and Community Garden, Marion Square, and Medway Park and Community Garden.